Oakland Girl Jahi McMath: Mother Pens Open Letter Says She’s Improving [UPDATE]

jahi mcmath and family death threats

Oakland, Cali Family Fights to Save Child on Life Support

UPDATE on March 15, 2014:

The Daily News reported the girl is showing signs of life now that she’s been moved from the hospital that released her body to the coroner’s office in early January.

In an interview with San Francisco Chronicle, Jahi’s uncle Omari Sealy claims the teen tosses and turns in her hospital bed and has signaled that she is aware of what is going on around her.

Sealy claims his niece will turn in the direction of those who come to visit her in her hospital bed, which indicates that she’s aware of what’s going on around her.

‘She moves so much, she can turn on her side,’ he told the paper. ‘They have to keep her bed rails up. They’re afraid she could fall out of bed.’

However, medical experts say movements like that is not uncommon of people who are brain-dead – they say it is a product of muscle and spinal reflexes responding to the mechanical supports attached to their bodies.

The medical community believes that brain-dead people are not alive, and that a brain-dead person can survive on machines for several months but their condition ultimately will deteriorate.

‘She definitely knows where she is and that we’re present,’ Sealy said. ‘One of the misconceptions out there is that she’s deteriorating or is going to deteriorate over time. But her skin looks better than mine.’

UPDATE on Feb. 22, 2014:

Young girl Jahi McMath’s mother Nailah Winkfieldan open letter Wednesday, saying that her daughter is improving.

“I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children’s Hospital and I see changes that give me hope.”

Nailah Winkfield wrote the letter posted on the “Keep Jahi McMath on life support” Facebook page.

Here’s part her open letter:

A letter from Nailah;

It has been over a month since I have spoken about my life with Jahi to anyone outside a very small circle of family and friends. So many people have asked how we are doing and if Jahi is alive. This has and continues to be an unbelievably difficult time for me as a mother and for us as a family. I have withdrawn for reasons of safety and privacy and to focus on my daughter and my role as her mother. However, I have not been alone.

I have been surrounded by the love, support and prayers of so many kind people. Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children’s Hospital and I see changes that give me hope.

As I prayed today, I felt called to express to people that I am truly grateful for the amount of love and support my daughter Jahi McMath and I have received from people all over the world. We feel your prayer and support. Because of your unselfish generosity I was able to do what I was
afraid I would never be able to do, move my daughter from Children’s Hospital Oakland before they removed her from her ventilator and stopped her heart. This was itself a miracle….

Read more HERE

UPDATE on Feb. 6, 2014:

We just found a video of a woman rubbing ice on the bottom of Jahi McMath’s foot. Her foot reacted to the touch every time it felt the ice. Though this appears to be a miracle, experts say it does not mean she is alive.

The San Jose Mercury News spoke with an expert:

Dr. Neal E. Slatkin, a neurologist and chief medical officer at San Jose’s Hospice of the Valley, said spontaneous movements aren’t rare in brain-dead patients and can be seen in 50 percent or more of such patients.

The movement, according to Slatkin, could be spinally mediated reflexes or due to irritable nerves or muscle membranes reacting to the application of cold.

The movements are not an indication that she is alive, he said.

“She’s brain-dead. She has no thought. She has no ability to control or interact with anything in her environment,” Slatkin said. “She’s completely dependent on machines and forever will be.”



UPDATE on Jan. 22, 2014:

The attorney for the family of Jahi McMath is defending their actions in a new op-ed that criticizes “self-righteous commenters” and praises the 13-year-old brain-dead girl’s mother for her courage despite “incendiary, hateful public rhetoric.”

In his op-ed, Christopher Dolan hit back, contending that those who have “attacked” Jahi’s family do so arguing several “simplistic, uninformed points: The family is either stupid, misled by their lawyer or trying to exploit the system.”

Dolan wrote that the McMath family “are not fools.”

“They know the odds,” he wrote. “They want time, free from the threats of the hospital to pull the plug.”

This was wrote by the family attorney and published in the L.A. Times.

UPDATE on Jan. 20, 2014:

Experts are weighing in on the Jahi McMath case and some say she is only brain dead and can possibly recover partially or fully and others say she is dead. It will be nearly 30 days Jahi McMath she has been labeled brain dead and now moved to another undisclosed facility where she is still on a ventilator.

According to the AmericanThinker.com:

There are thirty different criteria for “brain death,” which differ from state to state and institution to institution.  In the wake of early enthusiasm for heart transplantation,  “brain death” legislation was passed in the 1970’s in all fifty states in the USA, to allow for death to be declared by neurological criteria, rather than the cessation of cardiac activity.  This permits surgeons to remove hearts from “brain dead” donors and not be charged with homicide.  Despite claims that there has never been a case of a person diagnosed with “brain death” having a partial or full recovery, this is not true.  There are in fact examples of this type.  “Brain dead” patients heal wounds, make urine, bleed when cut; none of these things occur after cardiac death. No pathologist will perform an autopsy and no funeral director will embalm a “brain dead” person.

In this article, it mentioned many different examples of cases where people were left on life support due to state laws. It is a very interesting article. Please read more here.
Now, on the flip side: Some say the McMath family needs to let go and realize she is not with us any longer.
An article at Shereveport, LA. reported from guest columnist Peter Watson:
The sad case of Jahi McMath is just the latest round in a decades-old battle over the right to die. The questions raised by this case are profound: Who should have the final say in determining when and where we die? And when should doctors give up and admit that a patient is dead? In this case, the answer is clear: Jahi died Dec. 12. It’s time for her family to admit that and let her go.
In the article, he reveals how he saw his grandfather on life support for years and his own father as well but his family had to ‘let go’ because he never wanted to live artificially.
I can’t imagine the pain Jahi’s family must be feeling in losing their child. What I do know is that by refusing to let her go, they are only prolonging their own pain. They are being selfish by putting their wishes ahead of her welfare, by making her a national spectacle and, ultimately, by depriving her of a dignified death.
He provides harsh yet some real life words in the Jahi McMath case. We still believe for a miracle for Jahi but we do realize that they may have to make the decision of their lives to let her go. In this case, it is their decision and we will see how it unfolds. We just pray they finally get peace from either her life or death
Doctors should do everything in their power to restore a person to health. But when — as in this case — all hope is gone, they should be allowed to end treatment and let their patient die with dignity.Jahi McMath is gone. And while her death is a tragedy, what would make it even more tragic is to continue this fight hoping for a miracle that will never come. Jahi McMath is dead. It’s time to let her go.

UPDATE on Jan. 10. 2014:

Oakland Girl Jahi McMath’s Body Deteriorating After Transfer to New Hospital [UPDATE]

The family attorney for teen Jahi McMath says her body had deteriorated badly when she was in Oakland’s Children’s Hospital and they can see this more clearly since she’s been transferred to the new facility. Oakland Children’s Hospital has been blamed for not treating her while she was still there and this has caused the deterioration of her body thus far but of course they considered her dead.

 Christopher Dolan, The family’s attorney, told the San Jose Mercury News:

“She’s in very bad shape,” he said. “What I can tell you is that those examinations show that her medical condition, separate from the brain issue, is not good.”

Here’s some information about what happens to the brain after being on a respirator for months and even years from an expert:

Rebecca S. Dresser, professor of law and ethics in medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, told The Times: “Bodies of the brain-dead have been maintained on respirators for months or, in rare cases, years. However, once cessation of all brain activity is confirmed, there is no recovery,”

Dresser also served on a presidential bioethics council that in 2008 reaffirmed “whole-brain death” as legal death.

Brain cells die without blood flow and autopsies in such cases have shown that the brain liquefies.

Unfortunately, the courts have so far agreed that Jahi is dead. The coroner on Friday issued a death certificate listing Dec. 12 as the date of death.

UPDATE on Jan. 7, 2014:

The family has found a willing facility that has transferred Jahi McMath and is treating her now. The family will be keeping her new location from the Children’s Hospital in Oakland private due to some people threatening their lives.

Here’s video update below. It is a very touching press release.

UPDATE on Jan. 3, 2014:

CNN reports:

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a prepared statement why they are joining in the fight to help the McMath family:

“Together with our team of experts, Terri’s Network believes Jahi’s case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system — particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life.” 

Terri Schiavo died in 2005, nearly two weeks after doctors removed the feeding tube that had sustained her for more than a decade. She was severely brain damaged and became a national focal point in the right-to-die battle.

The organization said it has been overseeing the efforts of several groups to help get Jahi transferred out of Children’s Hospital Oakland and brought “to a safe place.”

Jahi’s family said Tuesday it had found a facility in New York willing to take her. The Oakland hospital “refused to agree to allow us to proceed in that matter,” Jahi’s uncle Omari Sealey said.

***A judge extended his order to 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) on January 7 to keep McMath on a ventilator.

Also in L.A. Times news, it reported on Jan. 4, 2014:

The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath and Children’s Hospital Oakland have reached an agreement that will allow a team to transfer the girl to another facility.

The facility was not immediately identified and although the girl can be moved while on a ventilator, her mother will take full responsibility for Jahi during the transfer, including in the event that the teen’s heart stops beating, under an agreement reached Friday.


UPDATE on Dec. 30, 2013:

The judge in this case extended a deadline until Jan. 7 to keep a 13-year-old on a ventilator as her family struggles to move her to a new facility.

It is a miracle that the girl is actually responding to touch, says the uncle. “Jahi is moving when her mother speaks to her, and when her mother touches her,” Sealey said in his brief statement.

A southern California hospital that agreed to move the teen from the Oakland facility but has now changed their minds and backed out.

Thanks for one of our readers who found this prayer from a pastor who prayed for healing of the teen:

Ronald Joseph She is not dead; she lives! Lord, perform this miracle in her life today that your name will be glorified; let the resurrection power of Jesus come alive in her body right now; let the brain cells begin to function again right now; in the name of Jesus; holy spirit you’ve done it before and you can and. Will do it again; you will raise her out of this condition and she will be a living testimony of your resurrection power and grace that world will see; I join my faith with her parents, friends, family and the multitude of saints who are praying on her behalf. By faith and by your strips Lord, she is completely and perfectly healed! Amen and amen!

UPDATE on Dec. 25, 2013:

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo has ruled that Jahi McMath can be removed from the ventilator keeping her body functioning.

But the judge gave Jahi’s family until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. Until then, she will stay on life support at Children’s Hospital Oakland.

AT2W and the family are still praying for a miracle and it God sees fit, it will happen!!

UPDATE on Dec. 23, 2013:

The Judge who ordered the hospital to not talk the young girl off her ventilator also ordered them to obtain an independent physician it has chosen to provide a second opinion on the girl’s condition.

In its court memorandum, the hospital said it has no duty to maintain life support because Jahi’s condition is irreversible. “Ms. McMath is dead,” the hospital said in the memo. “Children’s is under no legal obligation to provide medical or other intervention for a deceased person.”
Even though we can understand medically they have to deal with the truth as it appears but to state the ‘girl is dead’, is pretty cold. We are praying for this young girl and that God gives them a miracle.

UPDATE on Dec. 22, 2013:

Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo’s ruling comes as the 13-year-old McMath’s family and Children’s Hospital Oakland agreed to choose a neurologist to help determine the girl’s condition. The judge orders California hospital to keep Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead, on life support.

More news states a bedside vigil has entered its second weekend for the 13-year-old girl who was declared brain-dead after undergoing a tonsillectomy at Children’s Hospital Oakland. The family will hold a march and rally on Monday at 9:30 a.m. outside Children’s Hospital. The family says their gathering will be peaceful and lawful.

We did not cover this story when it first came out but we have a heart for the young girl in this terrible ordeal.

Mercury News out of San Jose, Ca. reported:

13-year-old Jahi McMath, has been declared brain-dead, just days after undergoing surgery to have her tonsils removed.

Jahi’s family, including her mother, Nailah Winkfield, huddled by her side at Children’s Hospital Oakland for a sixth day Sunday, calling on the community for prayers and searching for answers on what went wrong during what was supposed to be a one-night stay for the family favorite. Jahi arrived at the hospital Monday and was supposed to be released Tuesday, the family said.

Monday night, Chatman, a veteran nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, noticed her granddaughter was bleeding from her mouth and nose. She later went into cardiac arrest. Jahi spent Tuesday on a ventilator. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, doctors said she had swelling in her brain, and Thursday, she was declared legally brain-dead, family members said. The hospital staff is reviewing what happened, as they do when any procedure does not have the anticipated results, said spokeswoman Melinda Krigel.

Jahi’s uncle, 27-year-old Omari Sealey, said the hospital should have done more to stop the bleeding.

“There was a lack of urgency,” Sealey said. “It’s shock, it’s disbelief. You never think something like this will happen to you.” Family members describe Jahi as a well-behaved, bubbly teen who has been looking forward to spending the holidays with family and attending an eighth-grade dinner dance at E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts. Jahi’s family has asked the hospital keep her on life support for as long as possible, even if it means spending Christmas at the hospital. “As long as she has a pulse, we want her on life support,” Sealey said. “We want her to come home for Christmas. We want to give her presents. We want a chance for a Christmas miracle.”

Lisa Blair, the school’s chief operating officer at E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts, spent the week “praying for a miracle,” she said.

Watch video below on the latest: